Cannabis could help to prevent a deadly lung condition linked to coronavirus, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from the University of South Carolina claim that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the main active compound in cannabis, can reduce inflammation in the lungs known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
ARDS occurs when the immune system releases cytokine proteins, which lead to inflammation of the lungs.
This condition affects three million people worldwide every year, with figures expected to be even higher amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The NHS explained: “Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening condition where the lungs cannot provide the body’s vital organs with enough oxygen.
“It’s usually a complication of a serious existing health condition. This means most people are already in hospital by the time they develop ARDS.”
In the study, the researchers tested the effects of THC on mice with ARDS.
They found that in 100% of cases, the THC stopped the inflammation in the lungs, by slowing the release of cytokine proteins.
In their study, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, the researchers, led by Amira Mohammed, explained: “It is of interest to note that a significant proportion of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients come down with sepsis and ARDS accompanied by cytokine storm.
“Because currently there is no effective treatment against ARDS, a significant percentage of such COVID-19 patients die from severe damage to the lungs and other organs, caused by cytokine storm.”
The researchers hope their findings will encourage further research into the effects of THC on lung inflammation.